NH, Mughal Road closed, 50 rescued; schools shut in 3 distts

Jammu-Sringar highway badly damaged due to flooded Tawi and landslides near Samroli in Udhampur. - Excelsior/K.Kumar
Jammu-Sringar highway badly damaged due to flooded Tawi and landslides near Samroli in Udhampur. - Excelsior/K.Kumar

One dies of lightning, 4 hurt; many trapped in snow

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, June 22: Heavy rain lashed entire Jammu region, triggering flash floods and landslides, with authorities forced to shut schools in several districts including Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban and evacuate trapped people from many snow bound areas, while the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and Mughal Road remained blocked for the second consecutive day today leaving hundreds of vehicles stranded.

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A nomad was killed while four others were injured due to lightning in Seoj Dhar area of Basantgarh Sub Division in district Udhampur while over 50 trapped passengers in fresh snowfall at Sinthon Top in Chhatroo area of district Kishtwar were rescued. About 30 pilgrims from Sungri-Chassana area of Mahore in district Reasi said to have been struck in heavy snow in Kouser Nag area of Pir Panjal while scores of members of nomad families along with their sheep and goats from Kandi, Budhal, Darhal, Thannamandi and Mahore-Dharmari areas have been trapped in the snow in the same ranges. The police and Army teams have been sent from Chassana side to trace the trapped pilgrims. About one ft snowfall has been reported in many areas of Pir Panjal including Pir Gali belt of Mughal Road.
With massive flood in river Chenab and Tawi, high alert was sounded during early morning in many low lying areas of Jammu, Akhnoor, Jourian, Pargwal and Khour by the Administration and the Salal Dam authorities at Reasi. As the water level in Salal Dam increased, the Dam authorities opened flood gates and released water. The water level in many areas in Akhnoor and Jourian was flowing near danger mark and the people were advised not to move near the river. The water level started receding in the evening.
SSP National Highway, Shabir Malik said that due to heavy rain overnight, the floods in many nallahs, rivers and land slides/ shooting stones, caused extensive damage to the National Highway between Udhampur and Banihal. He said that highway was blocked at least at 32 spots but extensive damage was caused between Udhampur and Chenani and Nashri and Ramsu. He said dozens of loaded trucks have been trapped in the mud slides on the road at several places. At Samroli, about 150 metres of road has been washed away due to massive flood in river Tawi and landslides. A heavy machine was also flown down into the river. Due to closure of highway about 1200 vehicles in Udhampur and Dhar Road areas and about equal number in Banihal, Ramsu, Ramban, Nagrota, Jammu Bypass and Mansar area said to have been stranded.
Reports from Kishtwar said that police rescued 50 passengers travelling in 10 vehicles which were trapped due to snowfall and heavy rain in the high-altitude area of Sinthon Top in Kishtwar district today.
”Snowfall and heavy rain triggered flash-floods in Sinthan Top area following which 50 passengers including some women and children, were stranded. The police party led by SHO Chhatroo Insp Sameer Ahmed got the track cleared and after a lot of hard work rescued all the passengers,” SSP Kishtwar Shafqat Hussain Bhatt said.
The traffic on Mughal Road, an alternative link connecting the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri in the Jammu region with South Kashmir’s Shopian district, was also suspended due to landslides en route. The movement of traffic on this road was stopped late evening after fresh snowfall and slippery road conditions.
“The road continued to be closed today due to bad weather conditions but the men and machinery were deployed in the afternoon and the road clearance work was in progress,” Xen Mughal Road Division Choudhary Chowkat said.
Batote-Doda-Kishtwar besides Doda-Bhaderwah roads were also blocked at several places due to landslides. However, the slides were cleared by the authorities at some places. Reasi-Mahore-Gool and Chassana roads were also closed after landslides but were restored in the evening.
Reports from Udhampur said that one person (nomad) namely, Dhyan Singh (35), son of Sansar Chand, resident of Loudhra village was killed on the spot while four others (Gaddis/Gujjars) were injured when lightning struck them while grazing their sheep and goats at Nandani Top. They had gone to the Dhoks along with their cattle. The injured were identified as Yashpaul (34), son of Krishan Chand of Loudhra; Tilak Raj, son of Sansar Chand of Loudhra; Kugi (30) wife of Saifu, resident of Dhanu in Billawar and Javed Ali (23), son of Mohd Hussain from Dhanu, Billawar. The dead body and the injured were shifted to PHC Basantgarh by police and locals of the area.
About 150 mt stretch of highway was washed away at Toldi Nalla near Samroli, about 16 kms ahead of Udhampur this morning. Several machines were engaged at work in the area and one of them slipped into the river. Road condition at Mehar, Battery Chashma, Hingni, Maroog and Panthyal was also worst. The shooting stones continued at Panthyal even during the evening disrupting restoration work. Shuttering of a bridge was washed away in flash flood at a Nallah in Peerah area of Ramban district. A drilling machine of Gammon Company worth over Rs 2 cores was also damaged near Banihal, a NHAI official said.
Meanwhile, an incident of house collapse was reported from Ramban district, while five people trapped in flash floods in river Ans in Reasi district were rescued by the police. Two houses were collapsed at Baila and Chhamber Kinari area of Mandi in district Poonch last night. However, no loss of life has been reported. Two cattle sheds were collapsed in Kandi area of Rajouri in which 10 cattle including 7 buffaloes were killed.
The Doda district administration has declared high alert in several areas in the mountainous district. “We have been forced to declare high alert in areas close to river Chenab and its tributaries and also on slopes and slide-prone areas of Ramban and Doda districts,” an official said.
Besides Doda, the Deputy Commissioners, Ramban and Kishtwar districts have also ordered the closure of all educational institutions up to the Higher Secondary level including private schools for the day, an official said.
“All the schools across Ramban district, including Higher Secondary schools, shall remain closed today in view of the heavy rainfall and overflowing of nallahs and mudslides at several locations,” Deputy Commissioner Ramban Mussarat Islam said.
“As a part of advisory in view of hostile weather conditions and reports submitted by Tehsildars, I have directed CEO Kishtwar to close all educational institutions in district Kishtwar today. We will assess the situation later in the day for further decision,” Deputy Commissioner Kishtwar, Ashok Sharma said.
“As of now, there is no report of any damage from any part of the district,” the DC added.
According to weather forecast, heavy rain is predicted in Kishtwar district which may cause temporary disruption in traffic mainly on the National Highway and hilly roads, besides landslides and shooting stones in vulnerable spots of the highway, according to the advisory issued by the district administration.
“District police Kishtwar has established a help desk and people are advised to stay at home and not to venture out unnecessarily,” it said.
The district administrations have also issued helpline numbers in case of any emergency.
A MeT spokesman said that Udhampur recorded 119.4 mm rain, Batote 121.4 mm, Govindpura 129 mm, Katra 64 mm, Banihal 100.02 mm, Jammu (Bantalab) 45.2 mm while Rajouri 56.5 mm rainfall during past 24 hours.
Jammu recorded 15 degrees fall in temperature below normal, with heavy rain all over and snowfall at the higher reaches over night. Jammu recorded a minimum temperature of 18.2 deg C, Udhampur 19.8 deg C, Bhaderwah 11.8 deg, Katra 17.0 deg C, Batote 11.0 deg, Leh 10.3 deg , Kargil 11.4 deg and Drass 5.6 deg C temperature today. The Weatherman has predicted fair weather from tomorrow in the region for next couple of days.